Dave’s Free Play, Friday 4/25/14

  • April 25, 2014

It doesn’t matter whether or not I know the rules as far as instant replay challenges in Major League Baseball are concerned. It doesn’t matter if the players comprehend all the details either. It’s only their job to make the plays, not call them. But it’s probably important for the managers to know what’s going on, and it’s obviously incumbent upon the umpires to know what’s allowed and what isn’t.

Last night, during the Padres-Nationals game, it became apparent that San Diego manager Bud Black knew the rules on replay challenges, but the umps apparently didn’t, and that’s unacceptable.

The play in question was a Padres stolen base attempt by Yonder Alonso on which the second base ump ruled Alonso safe. Fact is, he beat the throw but didn’t execute a very good slide and the replay showed he was tagged out before he made actual contact with the bag. So the challenge from Nationals manager Matt Williams was upheld and the call was reversed. This was a potentially huge call in what was a tie game, and on one hand, I’m glad the replay crew got it right.

On the other hand, here’s the problem. Williams did not challenge the call until his pitcher, Rafael Soriano, was back on the rubber and the Padres hitter was in the batter’s box. According to the rules, which were actually read on air right out of the book by Padres analyst Mark Grant, the challenge from Williams was actually too late.

That’s a technicality to be sure. But it’s also necessary to prevent undue delays, which nobody wants. Regardless of one’s opinion of the rule, the fact remains it’s a rule and the umpires either weren’t aware of it or just plain got it wrong. Black had every reason to be fuming, and had the Padres lost this game, I think he might have had grounds to issue a formal protest. As it turned out, San Diego ended up winning, so it didn’t end up mattering. But the umpires simply have to know the rules on this stuff.

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Bump in the road for me on Thursday, -2.6 on the diamond, which is my worst day of the season to date. Still sitting at +20 units net already in MLB, so I’ll accept the bad night. One of the losers was on a team that somehow went 0/17 with men in scoring position, which is really amazing. I also decided to make an NHL parlay wager and ended up splitting those for -1.0 as the Bruins won but the Sharks sure didn’t. Rapid rebound time tonight with a card that will definitely be underdog heavy.

There are still a handful of days remaining to get the April Baseball Special. 30 days of all my MLB plays (plus whatever I might add in the NBA or NHL) and a guaranteed net profit of at least five units. Buy it now by using the “Buy Now” feature on this page (which I do not think can be seen if you’re viewing on a phone, so use a tablet or computer to implement), and select April Baseball Special from the menu, or email me with any questions at cokin@cox.net.

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Free plays continue to sizzle, with the Diamondbacks cashing in on Thursday. I’m involved with the Snakes for the Friday comp as well, but this time I’ll try to bite the hand that just fed me.

04/25 06:40 PM  MLB  (961) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES  (962) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Take: (961) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES +128

It’s Roberto Hernandez taking on Josh Collmenter tonight as the Phillies open a weekend set with the Diamondbacks. Philadelphia comes in on a bit of roll winning four of five including a series win over the Dodgers. The struggling Snakes also have a little positive momentum at last after rallying with two wins to split their set with the woeful Cubs.

Hernandez is off a very rough outing, as the former Fausto Carmona got lit up at Colorado. I’m willing to give Hernandez a pass on that one. It was his first start at Coors and his sinker wasn’t sinking. When Hernandez can’t command that offering, he has very little chance at success, so that unfortunate result was somewhat predictable. It’s not like he’s the first guy to get savaged at Coors.

Collmenter has always profiled better as a reliever, but basically had to get stretched out and put into the Arizona rotation because at least a couple of the team’s previous starters were getting annihilated. Collmenter remains effective as a reliever in once around the lineup efforts thanks to that quirky delivery. But the more hitters see of him, the more they like it. Small sample to be sure as it’s very early, but Collmenter is dead last in the NL rankings on third time through the lineup numbers, 84th out of 84.  What that indicates is that Collmenter could have success early against the Phillies. But if he’s still around by the fifth or sixth inning, he could well be very ripe for the pickings.

I’m a little mystified by this betting line, to be honest. The Diamondbacks have seven wins  and a whole lot more losses. They just lost a major power component with Mark Trumbo going down and besides that, winning two in a row against the pathetic Cubs isn’t exactly headline news. The Phillies, meanwhile, are showing they can still be a reasonably productive team if they can keep their older guys fresh and healthy. That probably won’t be the case as the season wears on, but for right now, they’re playing okay ball.

I can’t go into detail on the formula I use to come up with what I feel are live underdogs, but Hernandez fits that criteria here as he takes on Collmenter. It sure looks to me like the Phillies are in better current form, and even with the very dicey bullpen for the visitors, the home team’s relief corps isn’t significantly better. I mulled over making this a first five innings only call, but Collmenter gets more vulnerable later, so that’s not necessarily the right maneuver. At the price currently available as I’m posting this opinion, the Phillies are getting enough to get my attention, so I’m going with the road dog in this hookup.